A new season and the same narrative for both clubs.
Post-match, the statements from the interviewer to Guardiola seek to elicit praise.
Interviewer : “From start to finish the pace was there.”
“Yes, except the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half. They push and we miss some balls and after it is a little more complicated, but in general we make an excellent performance.”
Guardiola then draws attention to the context of the match.
“Considering where we are in the season – a lot of players lacking in terms of physicality.”
Asked about Mahrez’s perfromance, Guardiola again qualifies his praise alongside an expectation of improvement.
“Quite well. In the first half he created a lot of chances. The space was there – his full back did not push up – but he is going to grow. Seeing and trainining and learning the way we want to play.”
Improvement is the dominant theme of his interview.
“Without the ball and with the ball – we were like we were last season and that is the principles to come back to the patterns, to the routines, to our football fundamentals and after we try to improve day-by-day and we will be better.”
Leadership communication lesson
The challenge of sustaining success is one any good leader will need to face in their career. Guardiola’s approach in qualifying praise, in stressing the fundamentals that underpin past successes and in highlighting the need and expectation to improve every day, is an excellent approach to this challenge. Qualifying praise should help keep ego’s in check, stressing the fundamentals reminds everyone why they have been successful and the expectation of improvement should help guard against the danger of complacency. It is not only in the football world that results can change quickly and every leader would do well to remember this.